Why do some people develop swollen-looking pouches under their eyes, and what can be done about them? Two very common questions encountered in our exam room are answered by our eye doctors below.
The space between your eyeball and the bony rim of your eye socket is filled with skin and fat. With age, the skin gets thinner and loses elasticity, and the fat padding reduces in volume. This makes the area under your eyelid more likely to protrude and sag. As with most other conditions, genetics will play a role in terms of who is affected the most by age-related changes to the skin. Cosmetic surgery is the only solution for age-related changes to the skin and fat resulting in baggy eyelids.
There are other factors that contribute to bags under the eyes – some of these can be managed, see below.
Fluid retention – too much dietary salt intake can cause fluid buildup in the body. Areas where the skin is thinner will show up more obviously. Watch your salt intake, particularly before bedtime. Using a cool, damp washcloth, tea bag or cucumber slice will help bring down the level of swelling under the lids due to fluid retention.
Allergies – swelling of tissue is a common symptom of allergies. There are effective treatments for these including prescription eye drops.
Medical conditions – thyroid, heart and kidney disease can all cause fluid buildup in various parts of the body.
Infections – Sinus and eyelid infections will cause swelling of soft tissues. Come and see us if you suspect you may be suffering from an infection in or around the eyes.
Fatigue – a known cause of saggy eyelids, try to get a good night’s sleep. To reduce fluid buildup under the eyelids at night, sleep with your head elevated a few degrees with the use of a thicker pillow. Use the treatments mentioned above for fluid retention under the eyes occurring in the morning.
Smoking – smokers will lose collagen (contributes to skin elasticity) more rapidly than non-smokers. Quitting smoking will reduce the progression of bags under the eyes, not to mention all the other associated health benefits.
What about the commonly mentioned use of hemorrhoid cream for baggy eyelids? Our doctors do not universally recommend this as some of these creams contain a steroid that can be harmful to your eyes if used regularly. Short term use may be safe under certain conditions. Book an appointment if you’d like to learn more about what treatments for baggy eyelids might work for you.